Jill Scott’s first album in four years is a record made by a woman who’s been “bruised raw” by love only to come out on the other side with a new outlook and her sense of self intact. “Struggle’s gonna happen,” she waxes philosophical in “Blessed,” the heartfelt gratitude inventory that opens the proceedings. In “Le Boom Vent Suite,” buoyed by a finger-popping groove and some sprightly jazz guitar, Scott serves notice to the man who’s let her down that, as a “grown woman making decisions and choices,” she’ll be looking for passion — and commitment — somewhere else.
The full range of human emotion, from defiance to hurt and hope, is expressed over the course of the album’s 15 tracks. A celebration of new romance featuring soul singer Anthony Hamilton, “So in Love” gets a lift from infectious handclaps before climaxing with some steamy double entendre on the outgoing vamp. Frisky in a different way, “Shame” interpolates the tagline from the Spinners’ 1970 hit “It’s a Shame” and has rapper Eve helping out on the mike. The casual banter between the two women as they tell off a guy who blew his chance smacks of the sisterly sass of Fannypack or Salt ’n’ Pepa.
The record’s arrangements blend sumptuous orchestration, jazzy flourishes and neo-soul beats to consistently uplifting effect. As the self-possessed likes of “Womanifesto” attest, resilience lies at the heart of this record, with Scott’s vocals, her soprano as silky as ever, moving effortlessly back and forth between singing, scatting and spoken-word.
“Shame,” “Blessed,” “Le Boom Vent Suite”